jeudi 21 décembre 2017

Laura Waem retires from elite gymnastics

Earlier today, Team Belgium member Laura Waem said goodbye to the sport she loved and moved on to the next chapter of her life. Over the years, Laura has been a rock on the Belgian team, reaching several international finals and making history mutliple times.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Laura made her debut on the big stage back in 2012, when she was named to the Belgian Juniors team for the European Championships, held in Belgium. There, she already showed promises, placing 12th in the team qualifications and 30th in the all-around.

Credit: An vanderstraeten
She turned Senior the following year, starting the year at the International Gymnix in Canada, where she placed 4th on balance beam and 6th on uneven bars, as well as 12th in the all-around. After winning a bronze medal at Belgian Championships, she was named to the Worlds team, along with Lisa Verschueren and Gaelle Mys. There, she made history, qualifying for the all-around final with Gaelle. This was the first time two Belgian gymnasts qualified for the AA final at Worlds. In final, she placed 21st.

In 2014, she returned to Canada, where she reached three finals again (all-around, uneven bars and balance beam). After a successful Belgian championship (2nd), she was selected for the European Championships in Sofia, where the Belgian team ranked 7th in the team final. 

Credit: An vanderstraeten
She ended the year 2014 with the World Championships in China, where she contributed to the beautiful 11th place finish of the team and where she reached once again the all-around final ( 24th). A huge asset to the team, she was once again selected to compete to the World Championships in Glasgow in 2015. Laura helped the team finish 11th and securing a ticket for the Test Event in Rio where Belgium would try to qualify a full team for the Olympic Games for the 1st time since 1948.

In 2016, Laura made history once again. She was part of the Belgian team that  was sent to the Test Event, where they qualified for the Olympic Games and qualifying herself for the uneven bars final where she placed 7th. She was then selected to compete at the Olympic Games that summer, where Team Belgium ended in 12th place.

Credit: An vanderstraeten
After taking some time off to heal a foot injury, Laura came back earlier this year and was set to compete last November at her first competition since the Games but unfortunately tore her Achilles in practice. Kown for her bars work, Laura was a complete athlete, looking good on every event, especially on beam and floor, where her artistry was amazing to witness. Olympian, World all-around finalist and European team finalist : Laura achieved it all and is part of Belgian gymnastics history.

With the retirement of Lisa Verschueren two years ago due to a heart condition, and the ones of Julie Croket and Gaelle Mys last year, this is a page of Belgian gymnastics that turns. Laura will be greatly miss within the gymnastics world . She will now focus on her studies and start the new chapter of her life.

Laura, thank you for everything and good luck !

Career highlights:
2016 - Olympic Games (Rio De Janeiro): 12th (team)
2016 - Olympic Test Event (Rio De Janeiro): 3rd (team), 7th (uneven bars)
2016 - International Gymnix (Montreal): 1st (team)
2015 - World Championships (Glasgow) : 11th (team)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning): 11th (team), 24th (all-around)
2014 - Belgian Championships: 2nd (all-around)
2014 - European Championships (Sofia): 7th (team), 7th (all-around)
2014 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 6th (all-around), 7th (uneven bars), 8th (balance beam)
2013 - World Championships (Antwerp): 21st (all-around)
2013 - Belgian Championships: 3rd (all-around)
2013 - Gymfinales (Ghent) : 1st (uneven bars)
2013 - World Challenger Cup (Anadia): 7th (uneven bars)
2013 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 12th (all-around), 6th (uneven bars), 4th (balance beam)
2012 - European Junior Championships (Brussels): 12th (team), 30th (all-around)

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